29 Sep 2008

Former Niue leader says Budget cuts will force more people off the island

4:19 pm on 29 September 2008

The former premier of Niue, Young Vivian, believes the number of Niueans living on the island has dropped below 1000 and is in danger of dwindling even further following budget cuts.

Mr Vivian says cuts to the village development fund, child benefits and pensions will result in even more Niueans moving abroard.

He says he accepts that the problem isn't a new one and that the current premier, Toke Talagi, is faced with difficult economic times.

But he says the cuts will only make matters worse.

"Because Niue is about villages and we should be building up as a tourist product and also to attract our own Niuean people from overseas. The allowances for children, he should have left that alone because that is one of the things that Niuean people are coming to New Zealand [for]. Because the opportunities for benefits for children, benefits in health, in education and also a variety of opportunities."

Mr Vivian says he's hopeful Premier Talagi will be able to develop new relationships with alternative donor nations and attract new investment to the island.